Arm trajectories and writing strategy in healthy children

BMC Pediatr. 2012 Nov 7:12:173. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-12-173.


Background: Evaluation of elementary writing skills in children is usually obtained with high resolution (and high cost) techniques or with low resolution pen-and-paper tests. In this observational study we tested a quantitative method to obtain normative data to describe arm movement during a writing precursor gesture.

Methods: We recruited 226 healthy children (mean age 9,1 years [range: 6.3 - 11.4 years]), attending primary schools belonging to the "Istituto Comprensivo" of Rivanazzano Terme (Pavia). We asked to drive a cursor through a polygonal path (labyrinth) projected in front of them using a wireless mouse. Dartfish™ video analysis software was used to elaborate images and Excel™, MedCalc™ and Statistica 7™ to analyze values of shoulder, elbow and wrist ranges of motion, arm trajectories, execution times and gesture accuracy.

Results: Differences seen in motor strategies, when divided according to attended class, suggest a proximal-distal maturation of motor control. Obtained values were not significantly correlated with variables such as gender, ethnicity or cognitive functioning.

Conclusions: This type of approach to a study of arm movement during childhood represents a valid alternative to other tests, considering that it can differentiate children who perform similarly in the VMI test and is non-invasive, low-cost and easily reproducible.

MeSH terms

  • Arm / physiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Writing*